Drums Of Death: interview

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Newcomer Drums Of Death is attracting all the right kinds of attention. Kate Hutchinson catches up with the ‘voodoo-faced electronic-occultist’ as he gets set to play Time Out’s next On the Up night

  • Drums Of Death: interview

    Drums of Death

  • When we last encountered this voodoo-faced electronic-occultist, he was pumping his grime-y electro-techno re-edits out of an ice-cream van at Bestival to several hundred hard-rained-on revellers.

    Fast-forward one month: Drums Of Death, aka 29-year-old Glaswegian Colin Bailey, has signed to ‘no mess’ Berlin-London label Greco-Roman, whose soundsystem features Ross Allen and Hot Chip’s synth player Joe Goddard. He’s just finished supporting Hot Chip in America and joined them on stage at their former label’s (Moshi Moshi) recent club night at Matter to play drum pads during ‘Over and Over’. Factor in that Drop The Lime remixed his latest single, ‘Breathe’, and that he’s only been Drums Of Death proper since February of this year, and naturally we had to get him down to do his DJing, MCing and scarily brilliant thing at our new-talent showcase, On The Up, on November 7.

    On his ghoulish look

    ‘My music triggered off the imagery in my head. It engages people in a visual way that a lot of live shows don’t. I’ve always liked that post-colonial, conquistador-esque Mexican Day of the Dead thing that mixes the celebration of death in pagan culture with the grand displays of faith in Christianity. The voodoo-zombie connection also comes from Fabio Frizzi, an Italian composer who makes music for horror B-movies.’

    On his guerrilla live shows

    ‘It’s just stupid-ass junk-bass fun. I grew up playing in hardcore, metal and punk-rock bands, and I want to take that culture and put it into dance music. My face gets ruined halfway through, so you can see traces of how well the show has gone from the energy, the sweat, the mess and who’s got my make-up on themselves.’

    On being part of Hot Chip’s gang

    ‘I wasn’t a big fan of the band at all, but when I heard “Shake a Fist” I was jealous: it’s one of the best bits of pop-music genius I’ve heard. They turn the rock to 11; it’s all wild abandon.’

    On destroying his vocals

    ‘I DJ bits of tracks and I chop up my voice with a sampler. It’s comparable to Jamie Lidell, I suppose, but I’m not trying to do "a nice, soul maaan" thing, I’m trying to crunch up my vocals, throw them in the bin and stamp on them. My set is getting larger, with live drums too – I’m not just a guy with a laptop.’

    On working with rock stars

    ‘Peaches asked me to do a mixtape for her – you could compare it to the one Diplo did with MIA. She’s given me almost every a cappella from her songs and I’m making beats and adding vocals to them. I’ve covered her song "Rock Show" with a weird choir, a dark-toned rootsy thing, but some are more glitchy, sloppy hip hop, and some are more techno.’

    On his forthcoming album

    ‘There’s a bunch of people who’ll be on it, but they’ll all be under a pseudonym because I don’t want to trade on their fame. I want them to have the freedom to do something they wouldn’t usually do. If they play on stage with me, they’ll be wearing the stage paint too, like they’re stepping into my world.’

    On being in a nest of vipers

    ‘I played this show at Broomfields Festival in Essex with Essex geezers and bad boys there – and that’s not me. Funnily enough, I’m a well-read Scottish jessie. But everyone got into it and that was most surprising. A crazy, 50-year-old guy with tattoos all over him said to me, “Fucking wicked, man". It was great, because it means if my music is really good, people should get it no matter who they are. I don’t see there’s any reason why people can’t lose their mind to what I’m doing.’

    On being an after-dark deviant

    ‘My Kaput! night, the club I run in Glasgow with Duncan from Dananananaykroyd and a guy called Tom, is a move against Belle & Sebastian and Scottish repression. It’s this pulsating, crazy rave in a pitch-black basement, with weird experimental films on an upward projector and lots of smoke. Just total sensory-deprivation.’ On The Up, Camden Barfly, November 7. Apply for free tickets.

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